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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Josh Marshall

Bob Somerby and Anglachel ask: What the hell happened to Josh Marshall?

Actually, a lot of people have asked that question in recent times. Marshall's transformation into a Limbaugh-esque propagandist is the saddest and most confounding spectacle to emerge from this sad and confounding election.

Arianna's antics did not surprise me, since I never viewed her conversion as genuine. She's a libertarian, now and forever. Moulitsas is also a libertarian at heart -- moreover, he's a relatively young man given too much power too quickly. It was inevitable that he would one day transform Daily Kos into a left-ish Free Republic. He's a thug, switchblade at the ready as he leads his swaggering posse through the criminal night. I don't know enough about Skinner to judge the fellow (frankly, I can't even recall his first name at the moment), but he's young, and I've reached the never-trust-anyone-under-40 stage of life.

Josh Marshall always struck me as older than his years -- calm, reasoned, reflective, willing to weigh conflicting views. He is -- or rather, was -- a classic liberal, in the "on one hand this, on the other hand that" sense of the term.

Now he is something else entirely. Anglachel suspects that the Devil has made his overtures. The chink of the bag of gold. The addictive glare of the TV lights. That Tartini trill. It's all very hypnotic.
I don't think Somerby is wrong on any of these counts, I would simply push him further. He keeps hinting at it when he talks about the broken soul of emerging "progressive" culture, insults from transparent strivers, the frantic desire to become a Very Serious Person, the pseudo-left (a phrase Somerby has been using for several days), shape-shifting the recent past, and so forth. His focus is on the blogosphere and the straightforward lies of people like Marshall, Yglesias, Markos, Kevin Drum, Hamsher, Huffington, Atrios, Steve Benen, and Digby, the people who started exactly in the same place as Somerby (well, not Arianna) and who all of them, every last lying scumbag one, found out that the way to get invited onto TV, interviewed in big name news papers, sucked up to by political campaigns, was to join in the defamation of the Clinton/Gore administration.

It is more important to this group of the wanna-be punditocracy to be seen beating up that administration than to be critical of any Republican one.
This is why we have the weird opposition to McCain and Palin, almost identical to the trashing of Hillary, focusing on racism and social status to the exclusion of substance. It can work if you have already decided that the poor and working class as such are not worthy of political representation.
Somerby skewers Marshall for making the inane claim that McCain has run the dirtiest campaign since the Nixon era. I've noticed that NPR and some mainstream voices have taken cues from Marshall -- especially when it comes to finding "lies" in McCain ads. Most of these "lies" are actually nothing of the sort. For example, the Ayers/Obama linkage -- which TPM pooh-poohs -- is quite real, as our correspondent G documents at length several posts down.

I'd also note that Marshall and other progressives have severely misrepresented the sex ed bill which featured in McCain's ads. The actual bill includes these words (never quoted by any TPM story):
Each class or course in comprehensive sex education in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.
Fire up Google and see for yourself what happens when you type in that quote along with the phrase "Talking Points Memo."

Why does Josh Marshall keep the actual text of the bill a secret from his readers? Because Marshall is no longer an honest man. The pundit is now a propagandist. Watch it happen: For the rest of his life -- 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024 and beyond -- he will, with crimson in cheek and lightning in his eyes, offer hyperbolic pronouncements that the latest Republican campaign is the filthiest since Nixon's: I thought that I had seen disgusting tactics before, but never until now, never until NOW... And each and every time he says it, he'll be as predictable as a gas bill and as credible as Lord Haw-Haw.

Then again, perhaps Marshall does not intend to run a website forever. Perhaps Marshall sees the promise of an administration post: Josh Marshall as Josh Liman. Let's hope it happens. I'd prefer for him to receive a paycheck from Obama. I would prefer for the fact of payment to be established beyond question.

Perhaps we were always wrong to view Marshall as a man of liberal values, as opposed to partisan opportunism. His history is more complex than many think. He was slow to turn against the Iraq war. He always remained supportive of Andrew Sullivan, even when Sullivan supported W. A reader informs me that Marshall once was just as fanatical as any FOX newsman in his zeal to "get" congressman Gary Condit.

The biggest mistake we’ve made in ten years was letting Josh slide in 2002, when he began to lie in your faces about the shape of that campaign. (For one small bit of exposition, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/19/02. We were far too polite back then, when this could have been “nipped in the bud.”) But make no mistake—Josh has played for you for many years on this score. In the process, he is emerging as the Sully of the pseudo-left. It’s long past time for this weird, creepy man to pack his satchel and go.

At any rate, will someone please stop poor Josh Marshall before he boo-hoos, blubbers and cries defending Bush the elder again? Josh! George Bush 41 ran a scuzzball campaign! It was the start of modern GOP campaign culture. Our advice: Go away and grow some stones.
The link goes to this Marshall quote:
MARSHALL (8/10/02): I think deep down most reporters just have contempt for Al Gore. I don’t even think it’s dislike. It’s more like a disdain and contempt...And this was, you know, a year-and-a-half before the election, I think you could say this. This wasn’t something that happened because he ran a bad campaign. If he did, it was something that predated it.
Marshall here implies, but does not actually admit, his membership in that pack of Gore-haters.

Hmmm. Contempt for Al Gore in the 2000 election. How well did that attitude work out for the country?

Now Marshall -- like others within the reportorial elite that once held Al Gore in such contempt -- makes no secret of his love for all things Obama, and his hatred of all things Clinton.

History made the Gore-haters look foolish. History will have an even harsher judgment of the journalists and bloggers who demonized Hillary and gave us the cult of the Lightbringer.
Ok let me step in some shit with this comment. When I was in the service, I was constantly surprised by the number of people who were interested in refighting the Civil War.

And they were mostly from the North and West, not the South. Since I'm from the South, I was under a near constant barrage of variations of "We whipped your ass" from 1966 to 1970 and was actively victimized on a couple of occasions because of my state or origin.

Of course the whole thing was stupid and two of my best friends were from the North (and one was black). Neither of those guys and in fact most people didn't behave like jerks, but I would say the ratio was 1 in 10 loudmouth who harped on the Civil War constantly.

One guy, in response to the usual opening barrage of "Why do you Rebs constantly go on about the Civil War?" (And yes, he actually called the guy a Reb). His response: "Because you Yankees won't let us forget it."

I now recognize it for what it really was-- class warfare, with the South filling the role of the uneducated underclass and that seems to be where a huge percentage of the Democratic Party is today.

I guess we're all Bubbas now.
Thank you for this. There is but one constant in this upside down of the media: the Clinton hates were, and shall always be against the people.
Clinton and Palin are hated for the same reason: not one of "Them". One of "ours". It's a good litmus test, one you helped me figute out.
As I recall, Mr. Marshall was also all about WMD and rather for going into Iraq. He has too often been eager to sip whatever kool-aid was being served up -- just to be with the in-crowd, I think.

Skinner's first name is David. Last name Allen.
"The biggest mistake we’ve made in ten years was letting Josh slide in 2002, when he began to lie in your faces about the shape of that campaign."

That's the crux of it, isn't it? The lack of accountability has gone on so long -- and really, the fire has been doused with gasoline -- that the entire situation has escalated wildly. That's how c*** t-shirts become cool, I guess. Last night, I was thinking that this is the exact same feeling I had in the leadup to the Iraq invasion (and I've read others making similar comments). Opposing viewpoints screamed down; the press in complete lockstep; the feeling of wandering onto a Twilight Zone set and waiting for the zombies to come out. The progressive crowd decided some time ago that rules didn't apply, rank hypocrisy was fine, and anything was acceptable as long as the neo-prog crowd shouted in unison.

Bob: I do agree that there's a definite revelling in contempt and derision for "the lower classes" -- those not refined enough to even understand Obama and The Finer Things. Lunchbucket Archie Bunker types, I seem to recall from the primaries. My favorite part is how they frame it as being oppressed by "the lower classes" -- eg. their feelings are hurt that anyone makes fun of their patriotism -- how dare the peasants hurt their feelings? Why do they have to endure the indignity of sharing a country with these plumbers, anyway? That kind of thing.
Thanks Jen, and my apologies for the memory block. By the way, I DO trust you, even if you have not yet attained my decrepit number of years.
Well it's a good thing bloggers like you are around Joe.
...egh. That might be a misplaced faith, Joseph. Yesterday, I almost agreed to help my roommates make a pumpkin with the phrase "GOBAMA" carved into it. (On the grounds that it would at least help Democrats "generally.")

At this point, I have a hard time trusting anyone under 70. (Seriously.)
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